How Long Does Tuna Last in the Fridge (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 4 days

Tuna is one of the many sub-varieties of the mackerel fish family found in the market. The size and color of a tuna fish may vary as there are 8 different varieties of the fish that are commercially marketed across the world. Fresh tuna skillets are sold in the raw foods section of numerous supermarkets. Canned tuna has also been a beloved pre-cooked delicacy of the Western world.

Fresh tuna is generally available during a specific time of the year -beginning from late spring and extending up to early fall. However, frozen and canned tuna is available throughout the year. To enjoy the taste of tuna optimally, refrigerating the fresh or canned tuna meat correctly is equally important as this prevents it from decaying.

How Long Will Tuna Last in the Fridge

The best way to consume the fish safely is to ensure that it is refrigerated at an optimal temperature. This helps keep the tuna meat fresh and healthy. The longevity of tuna stored in a refrigerator depends on the kind of meat in question. The following factors must be acknowledged when storing tuna in a refrigerator:

In the case of fresh raw tuna skillets, the norm is to refrigerate them immediately after returning from the market. For ideal results, store these skillets in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Raw, fresh tuna skillets can last up to 2 days in the freezer. The freshness of the tuna meat is lost after the initial two days of its purchase, affecting its safety levels.

Prepared tuna delicacies like salads and sandwiches can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days. They must be discarded after the stipulated time as tuna meat is highly perishable and may impact one’s health adversely when consumed in a contaminated form.

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Canned tuna can be stored for a little longer. When canned tuna is stored at a low temperature, the contents are safe to be consumed within 4 days of opening the can. The longevity of the meat is boosted by the added preservatives in the can.

Pickling fresh produce can sometimes help improve its usability time frame. Tuna meat can also be pickled and frozen in a plastic bag. However, the extremely perishable nature of the tuna meat does not make it an ideal candidate for this process of prolonging its durability.

In Summary:

Condition of the Tuna MeatMaximum Duration of Storage
Raw, Fresh TunaCan be stored for 2 days
Prepared Tuna DishesCan be stored for 3 days
Canned TunaCan be stored for 4 days

Why Does Tuna Last This Long in the Fridge?

As a perishable edible, tuna meat must be optimally frozen to remain fit for consumption. The rationale underlying this necessity is that the bacterial build-up that occurs when edible items are frozen, thawed, and refrozen, adversely affects the safety of the product. In order to avoid this form of contamination, it is safer to consume refrigerated tuna within the stipulated time frame.

As tuna meat is prone to fungal and bacterial growths, buying frozen fresh tuna skillets is a better option than purchasing the thawed ones. This may also increase the longevity of the meat. However, it is safer to consume it within 2 days as fish brought from the supermarket can already be significantly dated. This increases the chances of bacterial contamination.

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Canned tuna offers relatively higher durability levels when refrigerated because of the added chemical preservatives in the can. The salts added during the curing process help delay its decay. Thus, unopened tuna cans can be stored for months in the cupboard.

Keeping the meat in the can is not advisable as the oxygen in the air reacts with the can and its contents to produce harmful fungal growths. As soon as the tuna can is opened, the contents must be transferred to a Tupperware container and refrigerated to prevent contamination.

Prepared tuna dishes last for only 3 days in the fridge because the added elements with the tuna meat like mayonnaise, vegetables, spices, bread, etc. accelerate the process of decay with their own perishable status. Thus, tuna in almost all its forms must be consumed within a safe window of 4 days to avoid health hazards.  

Conclusion        

The multitude of tuna varieties found in the market today is truly staggering. Tuna has retained its ace position in terms of being a go-to protein option in most delicacies. The affordability of the fish adds to its popularity.

However, when using tuna meat, one must always ensure that it is free from any fungal contaminants and is safe to consume. The safety and durability of tuna are directly linked to the temperatures at which the meat is frozen. When frozen optimally, raw tuna can last for about 2 days, while canned tuna has to be consumed within 4 days. Prepared tuna dishes must be consumed within 3 days of their refrigeration to avoid any health infringements.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-4549.2011.00650.x
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713520303741

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